The reasons behind a water distribution system upgrade
A 2020 Yale Environment Review article calls attention to declining drinking water distribution systems across the United States and notes leaking pipes lose up to 6 billion gallons of water daily. Because most U.S. water infrastructure was developed in the 1900s with an estimated lifespan of 100 years, malfunctions like leaking pipes, pump breakdo...
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Finding life after a brownfield site remediation
From small, boarded-up gas stations to abandoned factories, variously sized brownfields comprise familiar parts of the landscape across the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates more than 450,000 brownfields are situated throughout remote and urban settings. Often in economically distressed communities, the proximity of...
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Wisconsin drinking water standards: Meeting local and EPA requirements
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2021 Annual Drinking Report, more than 98% of the state's public water systems comply with all health-based standards. The Wisconsin DNR implements the state's drinking water program, which includes municipal community water systems, other-than-municipal community water systems, nontr...
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How groundwater remediation ensures a safe and stable water supply
A critical source of drinking water and irrigation, groundwater makes up about 90% of total available freshwater in the United States. When chemicals from pesticides, fertilizers, road salt, petroleum products, leaking underground storage tanks, landfill waste and other sources seep into groundwater over time, contamination occurs. Because groundwa...
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Need to replace your lead service lines? Illinois just announced a state grant program to help
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a grant program yesterday to create a Lead Service Line Inventory that will help communities meet requirements outlined in the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act. Because Illinois has more lead water pipes than any state in the U.S., this is another step toward helping mun...
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Underground storage tank remediation: cleaning up soil and groundwater
As of March 2022, more than 566,000 underground storage tank (UST) releases were confirmed across the United States. Leakage from USTs often contains hazardous substances like toluene, benzene, ethanol, lead scavengers and methyl tert-butyl ether, which can contaminate soil, groundwater, surface water and air if left untreated. Such toxic releases ...
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Overview of regulation and treatment of PFAS in wastewater
With more than 2,800 contaminated sites in 50 states, public concern about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination has grown, yet a great deal about these so-called "forever chemicals" remains unknown. Faced with such uncertainty, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set no formal limits on a moving target like PFAS d...
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PFAS remediation technologies for cleaning up soil and groundwater
The high resistance of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals to heat, water and oil makes them useful for a range of commercial and industrial applications. However, these commercially valuable qualities also impede environmental remediation. The limited reactivity of PFAS chemicals inhibits their combination with other elements and ...
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Cleaning up PFAS in Wisconsin: What steps are needed
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved state drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflourooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — the two most common chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The state NRB standards precede federal PFAS standards the U.S. Environmental Protection Ag...
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Municipal wastewater treatment technologies: the primary stage
Conventional wastewater treatment involves several physical, chemical and biological processes to remove solids, organic matter and nutrients from wastewater. Primary treatment removes coarse solids and other large materials from wastewater. At this stage, municipal wastewater treatment technologies eliminate organic and inorganic solids and floata...
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Key steps in a brownfield cleanup process
For brownfield sites, the specific contaminants and extent of contamination — unsafe levels found in soil, water or air from industrial and commercial use — determine specific steps used for the cleanup process. While one location may only need an independent cleanup, another site may require the involvement of state and federal regulators. Regardl...
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Evaluating total phosphorus in wastewater
The total phosphorus amount indicates how much phosphorus — as dissolved or particulate states — exists in a given wastewater sample. As an essential nutrient for plants and animals comprising aquatic ecosystems, the amount of phosphorus functions as a critical parameter to determine the health of waterways across the U.S. The slightest increase in...
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Effective and efficient soil remediation techniques for site cleanup
When you need to develop an effective soil remediation strategy for contaminated sites, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends short-term exposure prevention and long-term cleanup goals as essential strategic elements.  Exposure to soil contamination may occur via direct pathways such as ingestion, inhalation or skin contact with ...
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How to meet the new Illinois PFAS standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strategy to address community contamination caused by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is rapidly evolving. Some recent developments in the EPA's PFAS Strategic Roadmap include adding five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to a list of risk-based values for site cleanups. The regulat...
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The what and why of Industrial Hygiene
To prevent employees from getting sick or injured in the workplace, Industrial Hygiene (IH) Programs are necessary. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines Industrial Hygiene as the practice of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling workplace hazards to prevent employee injuries and illnesses. Having and unde...
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Evaluating the dangers of lead service pipes to keep the community's drinking water safe
 Although lead pipes are often thought of as relics of a bygone era, they are still a common component of water systems. Recent estimates indicate that up to 12.8 million homes in the U.S. are served by water systems with lead service lines, which are most common in older homes and infrastructure. In the past, lead was a common water service l...
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Fish kills: Should you be worried?
If you've noticed fish or other aquatic life beached or floating belly up in or around your river, lake, stream or pond, you may have a fish kill. Although nature sometimes plays a role when this happens, it's best to make sure the cause isn't because of your water body's health. A fish kill, also known as a fish die-off, is when a localized, but s...
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Proper soil remediation and disposal help mitigate contamination risks
Soil contamination in urban areas is mainly caused by activities like manufacturing, waste disposal, dry cleaning and industrial dumping. These practices often leave a trail of contaminants such as petroleum products, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals. Soil pollution presents a risk for human exposure to harmful chemicals through ingestion, inh...
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Using a chlorination process in wastewater treatments reduces E. coli
E. coli, one of the most common pathogens found in domestic wastewater, can cause gastroenteritis. This bacteria, which often lives in the digestive system, are one of many pathogens that can contaminate drinking and surface water. However, most pathogens are difficult to measure directly. Instead, a pathogen indicator can help detect fecal contami...
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Tackling lead service line replacement in Illinois with industry leaders
Lead service lines are common throughout the United States. For centuries, lead was the preferred element for plumbing. The word "plumber" even comes from the Latin word for lead. Lead pipes were popular because they resist pinhole leaks and can be easily bent to conform to the contours of buildings. Because of these advantages, water infrastructur...
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